Halftime – PHI 7, ATL 6

Posted: November 13th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 564 Comments »

Great 1st quarter. Things got weird after that.

What a terrific start. The Eagles ran the ball and dominated the LOS on their way to building a 7-0 lead. The Eagles got away from the run game after that, but still managed to get into FG range. Unfortunately, Caleb Sturgis missed a 44-yd FG.

The Falcons offense has struggled today, putting up just 6 points and 133 yards. Give the Eagles credit. They are covering well and doing a great job of tackling. Atlanta isn’t getting any yards after the catch. The Eagles are starting to get some pressure on Matt Ryan.

Feed the ball to Ryan Mathews. He’s running really well right now.

And quit doing dumb things. Wentz took a dumb sack early in the game. He then failed to recover a fumble that was right there for him. He then threw the ball away on 4th down late in the half. It didn’t hurt the Eagles, but could have. Zach Ertz has 2 false start penalties. Jordan Matthews has a drop that might have cost the team 3 points. Ugh.

But the Eagles are winning and they get the ball to start the 2nd half.

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Game Preview – ATL

Posted: November 13th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 360 Comments »

Big game. The Eagles have the chance to climb back above .500 and get a win against an NFC team. It won’t be easy because the Falcons are 6-3 and lead the league in scoring. Their offense is really clicking.

I wrote my preview for PE.com.

We did get some good news. Bennie Logan is officially back.

Don’t underestimate the importance of that. Jim Schwartz’s defense is built on good DL play. Logan’s return adds a high quality player to the starting lineup. Beau Allen moves back to being the #3 DT, which helps when the backup DL hits the field. The DL will need to be big today. Matt Ryan is having a great year. You aren’t going to stop him, but you can slow him down with regular pressure.

In order to win:

Time of possession – I generally agree with Chip Kelly that TOP is overrated, but it will be important today. The Eagles need to sustain drives to keep the ball away from Ryan and Julio Jones.

Who is the RB – Darren Sproles has been the key RB in recent weeks. The Falcons have speedy LBs. I don’t know if Sproles is the ideal matchup against LBs that can run. This might be a week to give more touches to Ryan Mathews.

Points – The Eagles aren’t going to win this game kicking FGs. They must score TDs. Doug Pederson was aggressive last week. It hurt the Eagles in that game. This is a week where the Eagles might need to be aggressive. That isn’t to say the Eagles should avoid all FGs and go for it on every 4th down. Take chances where it makes some sense. This game is likely to be a shootout. The offense has to make some big plays.

Pressure – Matt Ryan has been sacked 22 times this year. The pass rush can get to him. The Eagles don’t necessarily need to sack him, but they must get pressure early in the game so it will affect him the whole day. Sacks are great, but if they can at least speed him up, that will help the defense. While this game is gonna be a shootout, the D needs to come up with some key stops and/or takeaways.

TEs – I think the Eagles will want to use their TEs a lot in this game. I’ll be watching to see if Ertz/Celek/Burton can make some plays in the passing game. Ertz and Burton were good last week so that’s encouraging.

Carson Wentz, Fletcher Cox and the rest of the Eagles need to come up with a big win.

Go Eagles.

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The Biggest Need

Posted: November 12th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 133 Comments »

The Eagles need WR help.

Some might prefer a stud RB

I think a top fight CB could help this defense become a great unit.

You can make a strong argument the team needs help in several areas. I think obsessing on position is the wrong way to go. The Eagles have a talented team with plenty of solid players. This group needs impact players more than anything.

Think about Dallas right now. You can argue that they have the best LT, C, RG, RB and 4-3 LB in the NFL. That’s impressive. Those guys can be dominant in games. It is easy to build around those players. There are some major holes on the Dallas roster, but the great players make up for that. In a fantasy world you would have good players everywhere. It is incredibly hard to build a roster like that.

I’m not saying the Eagles shouldn’t address weak areas. Obviously they should. But the notion that they must focus on one position over another is flawed. This roster needs impact guys more than anything. Would you rather have a good WR like Demaryius Thomas or a great pass rusher like Von Miller? The Eagles aren’t weak at DE, but Miller is an impact player. Those are the kind of guys who help you win big games.

I haven’t started thinking too much about the offseason and going over lists of who might be available, but the Eagles need to keep their eyes open for impact players. If that is a WR or RB or CB, great. If it turns out to be an OL or DL, that’s fine too.

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Speaking of holes on the Dallas roster…

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One thing that will help the Eagles quite a bit is the development of Carson Wentz. He has the potential to be a great player. Tom Brady has won with a variety of blockers, runners and receivers over the years because he is a great player and makes those around him better. It isn’t likely that Wentz turns out to be as good as Brady, but go back in Eagles history. Donovan McNabb won without having great skill players around him. He made James Thrash, LJ Smith and guys like that better players than they should have been.

Wentz does that here and there, but he’s too busy learning how to play to really make the players around him significantly better. He has shown the physical skills it takes to be a special QB. He needs experience to learn the subtle aspects needed to be a great one.

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Part of what the coaches have to do this year is figure out what their schemes need to thrive. If Doug Pederson has a choice between a great RB and a great WR, which way does he go? Beyond that, would he prefer size or speed? Strength or quickness?

Jim Schwartz is known as a DL guy. He might love to add another piece to the front seven. He might also see CB as a position that must be upgraded. Beyond that, he needs to figure out what kind of a player he might want for those spots.

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Grymes was promoted because of his ability to play CB, NB, S and STs. When you’re near the bottom of the roster, you need to be able to do multiple things. Coach Pederson said Grymes would be active on Sunday.

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Mr. 53?

Posted: November 10th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 161 Comments »

The Eagles have an open roster spot. They never signed anyone after cutting Josh Huff last week. What gives?

There was no need to sign anyone before last Sunday. The player wasn’t going to come in mid-week and then make a difference in the game. The fact that no move has been made yet leads me to believe the Eagles are looking around the league. If you want to add a player from someone’s practice squad, you make that player an offer and he then makes a decision of whether to stay on the PS or join your active roster. Some teams will throw extra money to the player to get him to stay on their PS. And there are times when a player likes where he is and a little extra money keeps him happy, even on the PS.

I have no idea who the Eagles could be looking at from other teams. They liked hundreds of players in the pre-draft process. They evaluated players this summer during the preseason games. Pro scouts continue to write up reports on young guys who might be available.

What position? WR is the most obvious choice. The Eagles could also go for a CB. If there is some player they like, the Eagles could add him even if he’s not at a position of need. We’re talking about the 53rd spot on the roster. This is mostly about adding someone for the future.

Doug Pederson did mention that the team is looking at its own PS. He specifically mentioned WR Paul Turner and CB Aaron Grymes. I’d be happy with either of those players. Part of me would love to see Turner in action. I think the Eagles were wise to cut him back in September, but part of me would like to see him in action now to see if he can be an effective role player. Grymes would add another young body to the already CB spot. Jalen Mills has shown promise, but certainly doesn’t have anyone jumping for joy. CJ Smith has yet to play this season. He did impress this summer.

One factor in this equation could be injuries. Pederson might be waiting to see if any spot is more banged up than another and needs an extra body. There are no major issues that I know of.

We’ll just have to wait and see what the team does. If they were desperate, they would have made a move. The fact the team has been this deliberate makes me think there could be some outside player with complications.

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Huge news. With the Falcons’ explosive attack coming to town, the Eagles need all the defensive help they can get.

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We talk about learning from a loss. As painful as that final play was, it could drive Carson Wentz and Jordan Matthews to perfect that play for future reference.

I look forward to seeing it run sometime here in the near future.

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Balancing Act

Posted: November 9th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 100 Comments »

Doug Pederson is building the Eagles for the future. He’s also trying to win now. That makes for one heck of a balancing act.

I wrote about that, as well as some game observations, in this column for PE.com. Think about what’s going on with the Eagles. There are 10 first and second-year players that are contributing so far. That is a lot of young guys. It also complicates things when they can’t lean on veterans as much because the veterans are still learning the offensive and defensive systems. Knowing the playbook in theory is one thing. Putting it into practice in a live game setting is very different. It takes reps in practice and games for players to perfect their roles and learn the subtleties that truly make a scheme come to life.

When Lane Johnson got suspended, the Eagles gave his job to a completely unproven rookie. Compare that to the Vikings. They had OTs get hurt and ended up signing veteran Jake Long to come in and fight for a job.

The Eagles had a chance to trade for WR Torrey Smith last week. They decided to keep their picks and not take on his salary. They also get more of a chance to see their young guys in action. I know some of you think that is insane, but the Eagles want to have a really good idea of who and what DGB, Bryce Treggs and Nelson Agholor are by the time this season is over.

Agholor is not having a good year. No one disputes that. Teams just always fear giving up on an early pick too soon. Look at RB Melvin Gordon. He had a poor rookie year. He then started slowly this season. Something happened and he just had the best 2-game stretch of his career. It looks like the light finally came on for him. I’m not trying to sell you on the notion that will happen. The Eagles just want to make darn sure Agholor has to be replaced before they do it.

Treggs looked good Sunday. Now the test is to see if that was a “beginner’s luck” kind of thing or just a sign of things to come. His speed is legit, but one game is just one game. He’s got to show more. DGB started the season looking so good, but didn’t have a good game Sunday and had some costly drops vs Dallas. We’re starting to see why the Titans were so ready to give up on him. He still has great size and big time talent. You need more game action for him to show what he can be counted on to do (or not do).

This is the year for the Eagles to find out about these players. Next year there will be real pressure for the team to win.

Dealing with the growing pains of new/young players, new coaches and new schemes isn’t fun. You love change when it works, but hate the times when things don’t go so well. You just have to understand that what is happening this year is that Pederson and his staff are laying the foundation for the future.

Let’s compare that to some other situations. Todd Bowles is in Year 2 with the Jets. His QB, RB and star WR are all over the age of 30. He’s got some serious veterans players in that lineup. The Jets are 3-6. They have 4 losses by 10 or more points. That is a team with some serious issues. They have coaching, GM and player questions to deal with.

Gus Bradley is on pace to be the 2nd worst coach in NFL history. He is 14-42 as coach of the Jags. His franchise QB is a mess and their defense (Bradley’s specialty) has been awful throughout his tenure. Bradley is gone at the end of the year. Can Blake Bortles be fixed? What does that defense need? They’ve invested picks and money, but don’t have good results.

The friggin’ Packers are 4-4 right now. They have Aaron Rodgers. They have good receivers like Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. They have the right Matthews brother. They have Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a terrific young FS. How the heck do the Eagles have the same record as those guys? As mad as you might be about the Dallas loss, the Packers lost to them by 14 at home. Ugh…

Trying to flat out “win now” is tough. Balancing that with also building for the future is a real challenge. I think Doug Pederson is handling that well so far.

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I will write more about some of his decisions and strategies in a different post. I don’t like everything he does, but he’s trying to be consistently aggressive and build an attitude with this team. That could pay off in a big way in the future.

Could…

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